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Content here represents the voice of SIGNATURE SUNSETS, an informational initiative designed to broaden and brighten horizons in the funerary domain.

The material is an outgrowth of a pre-planning reference book, Pondering Leaves: Composing and Conveying Your Life Story's Epilogue, written by the author of this blog.

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Friday, March 25, 2016

CATHEDRAL MAUSOLEUM

Journey Journal... Los Angeles, California

ELYGIAN GLITZ and GLAMOUR 


“Look beneath the surface; 
let not the several quality of a thing nor its worth escape thee.” 

                                                                                                         ~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

In the heart of the bustling Los Angeles metropolis there’s a brick and mortar necropolis.  Unlike mausoleum edifices that rise heavenward as structures above the earth’s surface, this version of a graveyard is sequestered in lower level territory that diverts magnificently from the usual subterranean sphere of burial spaces.  Rather, its arena of bygone earthly inhabitants lies within the basement bowels of an extraordinary cathedral.  

The massive and elaborate Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels that made its debut in 2002 is a testament to human collaboration and achievement.  Its building is uniquely configured with acute and obtuse angles, rather than right angles.  

Photo Source:  www.Panache.Voyage... Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

A team of construction and design experts spent a year researching strategies to ensure integrity and durability, addressing concrete formulas, configurations, placements, and curing processes.  Mock-up testing with attention to potential environmental stressors was a part of their investigations.  

The fact that the site for this monumental undertaking was atop the Elysian Park Fault posed an immediate challenge.  In the event of an earthquake, the threat of severe ground motion, predicted to be up to 7.0 magnitude, had to be countered.  Because of the application of technically advanced methodology rendering exceptional durability, the entire building can move about twenty-seven inches in either direction during earthquakes, thereby conferring potential to serve as an emergency shelter.  A freestanding bell tower that’s one hundred and sixty feet high also is seismically secured.   

Such meticulous preventative diligence was motivated by historical trauma.  The building project was undertaken to replace the smaller Cathedral of Saint Vibiana, which had been compromised by a series of earthquakes through the years and then severely damaged as a result of the 1994 Northridge quake.  

The 195,000 square-foot showpiece of more recent origin is the third largest cathedral in the world and the first Catholic cathedral built in the United States in over thirty years.  It is the flagship church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, encompassing two hundred and seventy-five parishes, and is the seat of its archbishop.  Imbued with diversity of its constituents, Sunday Mass purportedly is conducted in forty-two languages.  

Alabaster surfaces and effusive rays from a large window above the altar contrast ethereally with the dark appointments characteristic of older churches.  Pendant lighting bespeaks modern design.  Yet many of the relics from the original Saint Vibiana Cathedral were melded into interior spaces, including a refurbished organ.  

Photo Source:  Wikipedia - Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Beneath the altar of the luminous sanctuary that seats three thousand parishioners are the gleaming quarters for those who are no longer active congregants.  Stairs lead down to the resplendent mausoleum – one of the largest cathedral burial vaults in the world, with close to thirteen hundred crypts and nearly five thousand niches.  Ordinarily, one would not blink an eye upon encountering a church crypt, so common through the ages, but this one commands rapt attention.  It is a showpiece of palpable beauty.  



Besides being dazzled by the shiny essence of the limestone crypt and niche facades, visitors are apt to be enraptured by the colors and designs of stained glass windows, etchings, sculptures, and their inscriptions.  

Photo Source:  Catholic Cemeteries... Our Lady of Angels Mausoleum

Photo Source:  Wikipedia Commons... LA Cathedral Mausoleum Annunciation.jpg

Exquisite works of sacred art are on display as adornments.

Photo Source:  Catholic Cemeteries... Our Lady of Angels Mausoleum

The remains of former bourgeois Catholic devotees aren’t necessarily resting in peace here in this prestigious milieu.  These “Elysian fields” of concrete and stone were made available, at least initially, primarily to individuals who had been financial benefactors or relevantly connected in positions of significance. The remains of five California bishops, originally interred elsewhere, were moved here and have been accompanied by those of other bishops and archbishops of Los Angeles. Anyone who made a substantial donation to the building fund could be considered as a candidate.  Celebrity status undoubtedly enhances prospects as well.


A decision to honor requests for entombment or inurnment in these elegant quarters is dictated by the archbishop.  A decedent need not have been a practicing Catholic follower; being married to a Catholic individual or coming from a Catholic family is acceptable. However, the price for “residency” is high.  The most exorbitantly priced spots are within one of six semi-private chapels, in four crypts in a sarcophagus directly under the altar, or near the twenty-six stained glass windows and lunettes relocated there from the original cathedral.  Revenue from all sales is appropriated for an endowment fund to maintain the cathedral property.  

The massive mausoleum is but one feature of this multi-purpose hub.  On the grounds of the core building there is a public plaza covering two and a half acres that's used for liturgical, cultural, and civic events.  It is embellished with captivating attractions, including works of art and water features.   




A landscape of children's attractions invites play.


There is also a conference center, clerical residence, and three-level underground parking garage for six hundred cars.  A gift shop and cafeteria render the site all the more welcoming.  

 

This showpiece that’s conspicuously located adjacent to a nearby freeway has been designed and constructed as a permanent fixture for hundreds of years to come.  Here, centrally posed amid the commotion in the second-largest city of the United States, known as the "City of Angels," opportunities beckon both the living and the dead. 


REFERENCES and RESOURCES







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